An out-of-sorts FC Halifax Town were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw in a dour game at home to Boston United.
Town again struggled to impose themselves on the contest akin to similar performances against Worcester, Altrincham and Nuneaton.
There’s a nagging sense that, given the lion’s share of possession and a defensive-minded team to break down, The Shaymen are at a loss to know how to go about it.
Their performances, and the quality of the games, seem to rise to the occasion against better opposition, which at least bodes well for the play-offs.
But to get there, Halifax will need to learn how to negotiate obstacles like Boston, with matches against other lower-half dwellers like Alfreton, Bradford Park Avenue and Gainsborough imminent.
Town had two weeks to refine their game-plan after the scrappy 2-1 win at Worcester, but there wasn’t much difference from then to now as both teams started in lackadaisical fashion, barring former Halifax loanee Alex Simmons’ fierce shot that was deflected over for a corner in the opening two minutes.
Town looked disjointed going forward, with their attempted attacks hampered by a lack of tempo or control over the ball.
In terms of pace, the first-half rarely broke out of a trot, which was never going to be enough to break through a Boston side clearly happy to take the sting out of the contest from the off.
A more imaginative approach could have paid greater dividends, but The Shaymen too often pinged high balls upfield that were easily dealt with by the Boston centre-backs.
The hosts’ first effort on target, a Matty Kosylo free-kick from 25 yards after 20 minutes, was comfortably saved by Ross Durrant.
It was another 17 minutes until Durrant was tested again, when he punched away Adam Morgan’s free-kick from the corner of the box. For efforts on goal in the opening-half from Halifax, that was that.
Danny Clarke, who replaced Daniel Nti in Town’s only change from Worcester, had done little to justify his selection with some sloppy passing and poor control; Town were again reliant on Kosylo to create opportunities, but the winger found no team-mates on his wavelength.
The two swapped flanks midway through the opening half to no avail; it was going to take more of a rethink than that.
Boston were good value for the draw at half-time, with Harry Vince firing wide from the edge of the box and Josh Robinson heading just over from a corner. Colby Bishop had their best chance yet just after the interval when he was put through after Kevin Roberts’ sloppy clearance, but Matty Brown’s block took the sting out of his shot.
For the second game running, Billy Heath brought on Denton at half-time, surprisingly in place of Adam Morgan, but unlike at Worcester, it made little difference.
Town had a penalty appeal turned down when Richard Peniket appeared to be tripped chasing a through ball, with referee David McNamara giving Boston a free-kick for an alleged push by the striker, much to Heath’s fury.
Town’s first effort on goal of the second-half didn’t come until the 75th minute, when Brown’s bullet header from overdue substitute Jordan Sinnott’s dinked free-kick, was kept out by Durrant with a fine reaction save. It hardly seemed waiting half-an-hour for since half-time though.
It didn’t signal the beginning of an onslaught, with Kosylo’s rising volley from the edge of the area 10 minutes later their next effort at goal.
Barring Denton’s tame header at goal, Boston recorded just their sixth clean sheet of the season with ease.
Halifax: Johnson, Roberts, Garner, Brown, Wilde (Moyo 81), Kosylo, King, Lynch, Clarke (Sinnott 73), Peniket, Morgan (Denton 46). Subs not used: Drench, Hotte.
Shots on target: 4
Shots off target: 3
Boston: Durrant, Thomas, Yeomans, Vince, Batchelor, Robinson, Chapman, Gordon, Simmons, Bishop (Marshall 85), Hilliard (Chippendale 90). Subs not used: Clarke, Fitzpatrick, Maguire.
Shots on target: 3
Shots off target: 4
Town man of the match: David Lynch
Referee: David McNamara